Horne: ‘New Zealand exodus doesn’t make them vulnerable’

Date published: August 15 2016

Australia centre Rob Horne has dismissed suggestions that the All Blacks are vulnerable after losing a string of star players over the last 12 months.

Former captain Richie McCaw, front-row stalwarts Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu, fly-half Dan Carter and centre pairing Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu have all retired from international rugby in the aftermath of last year's World Cup success.

A similar exodus at any other team would leave a massive hole to fill and test the player depth, but the All Blacks have made a habit of introducing new players without compromising their performances and results on the field.

That is why Horne doesn't buy the notion that New Zealand are perhaps not as strong as they should be.

"Of course not. They are an incredible team," Horne said on Monday.

"Just because you lose a few players doesn't mean all the other guys go away, too. They've been in there getting the same experience as those senior guys. It's a team that have been at the top for a long time and they deserve to be.

"They are a difficult team to play because they can win in different ways."

Despite this, Horne believes Australia can back the the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 13 years.

"Of course, we wouldn't turn up otherwise. What's the point?" Horne said.

"We've had a pretty long prep now, so we're pretty keen to get out there and we feel ready to play."

Horne started in all three Tests against England in June, but will face extra competition for a place in the side with the return of overseas-based Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell.